Triple rookie podium for Richardson Racing at Brands Hatch
Richardson Racing was able to celebrate three more rookie class podiums from an action packed weekend of racing as the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship headed for Brands Hatch for the third round of the campaign.
The Corby-based team made the trip to Kent with all three drivers hoping to make forward progress after mixed fortunes in the previous event at Snetterton two weeks earlier, with Robert de Haan, Edward Pearson and Oliver Flashman racking up the laps during Friday testing.
Qualifying on Saturday morning would prove to be a challenge as all three drivers battled to try and find clear space on track, with a field of 27 cars on the shortest circuit on the calendar.
Robert would set his fastest time early on in the session but would have to settle for 14th place on the grid, with Oliver and Edward lining up in 21st and 24th for the opening race.
A strong first lap from Robert saw him move up to the fringes of the top ten and he would work his way through to eighth place at the finish as third best rookie, with Oliver storming up the order to run in 13th spot before he was forced off track by one of his rivals.
That led to a trip into the pits and dropped him off the lead lap in an unrepresentative 24th place, whilst Edward would be an unfortunate retirement after he too was forced off track on the final lap having raced hard to get himself up to 17th place.
The grid for race two saw Robert start from 16th, with Oliver in 20th and Edward in 24th but it would prove to be a bruising affair for two thirds of the line-up.
Although Oliver would lose places early on, both Robert and Edward were able to progress up the order, with Robert breaking into the top ten and Edward making his way up into 17th once again.
However, Edward was then involved in a race-halting incident at turn one when two drivers ahead clashed and he collided with the stationary car of Ian Aguilera; his car sustaining extensive damage in the process.
When the damaged cars were recovered, the race was re-run over a shortened distance of nine laps, with Robert securing seventh place and a second rookie podium of the weekend, whilst also setting the fastest lap amongst the rookie drivers.
Oliver meanwhile was involved in contact on track for the second race in succession, which dropped him to the back of the grid and undid all the good work he had done in the early laps, where he had climbed from 21st up to 16th.
Fine work overnight from the team to prepare the spare car, which only arrived at the circuit at 2am, ensured that all three drivers were able to line up for the final race of the weekend on Sunday - which aired live on ITV3.
Another solid drive from Robert saw him make up two places from his starting position to finish in fifth spot when the race was halted early after one of the cars dropped oil on the circuit, securing his third rookie podium of the weekend in the process.
Oliver battled hard in the early stages and made up four spots to run in 20th before getting turned around at Graham Hill Bend, which dropped him to the back of the pack. Despite his car picking up damage, he was able to make up places after a safety car period to end the weekend with an 18th place finish.
Edward meanwhile produced one of his best drives of the season to date, racing hard in the pack and staying out of trouble to cross the line in 17th place.
Oliver Flashman (Benfleet, Essex) - #17 Ginetta G40:
"We've been unfortunate with the results this weekend but I'm really pleased with the progress I've made. I was able to make up loads of places across the races but then incidents on track have undone my hard work which is a shame as I feel we could have had some good results.
"I need to work to improve my performance in qualifying as I think this weekend has shown that I can get the job done in the races. Hopefully at Oulton Park we can qualify a bit better and then push towards the top 15."
Edward Pearson (Guildford, Surrey) - #41 Ginetta G40:
"This weekend has been weird with the two DNFs and then a really good race three. Race one was all down to another driver and then race two was unavoidable and there was nothing I could do. The team did an amazing job to get the spare car ready and there are a lot of positives to take away from race three.
"The car in race three felt really good and it was perfect from the moment we went out. I'd like to thank them for that, and I think we'll come back stronger at Oulton Park."
Robert De Haan (Eerbeek, Netherlands) - #46 Ginetta G40:
"It's been a really good weekend in the end after a tricky qualifying session. I didn't quite get the best from the session and we had some work to do in the races.
"We came back strong in the races and the team did a great job to give me a car that allowed me to fight hard for position. It would have been nice to get an overall podium finish this weekend but I think we can have a good weekend at Oulton Park and push for the top three."